Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Trekking in Nagarkot

After a few relaxing days in Bodhanath, we were ready for some mountain vistas. We hired a taxi to drive us up to a Nepalise weekend getaway. It's only 28 km from Kathmandu, but it's over 1000 metres higher (around 2100 m) and took 4 hours to drive. We did make a small detour to visit a particular temple en route, but Adrian calculated the drive to be about 7 km/hour. I have never seen a road in such terrible condition, even in India. There wasn't close to one lane that had solid pavement, and trafic was 2 way. The entire road was filled with rocks and potholes, and yet no one seems to complain. They are such a tolerant folk.

Upon arriving, we decided to splurge on a mid-range resort ($20 US) at the very top of the mountain. It was clearly quite a nice resort once, but hadn't had any maintenance in many years, and everything was dusty and crumbling. The view was stunning! We had clear skies at both sunsets and sunrises for 2 days, even though we had to get up at 5 am to see the sunrise. We could see the entire Himilayan mountain range on one side, including Everest in the distance, and the Kathmandu Valley on the other side. The Himalyans are snow-capped this time of year and appear very sureal, as they are so high in the sky we originally thought they were only clouds!

The first day we just daytrekked around the area. We did a 4 hour trek to Katikke and Sankhu, winding down through villages on walking trails. The terrain was very steep, and we walked lots of switchbacks.

When we returned to our hotel, they were filming a Nepalese music video. We got to watch the dancer part and hear the same Nepalese pop song repeated over and over. There's a real Asian esthetic about the pop music, very much like we heard in Burma, and same in Japan, but I can't say that I can fully appreciate it.

The last day, we woke up early and decided to walk back to Kathmandu. We started by walking to a watch tower in the middle of an army training camp. Adrian was a little freaked out to see a bunch of soldiers training in the middle of the road with guns slung over their shoulders and yelling orders and slugging bags of sand around for practice. He was more enamored with their obstacle course training.

After this, we just walked straight down, looking for lots of short cuts through farmers fields. By doing this, we met Raj, a 14 year old orphan, who offered to show us more shortcuts and guide us down into the valley. He was a great resource for us, since he knew all the locals, and they let us walk through their fields. He spoke great English and told us he learned it 1 hour a day at school, and that he really wanted to use it, but he lived too far away from more tourist areas to ever use it. We walked for 5 hours with him, not quite all the way back but he walked us to a local bus station and helped us take the city bus the final couple of kilometres. We would never have made it down the mountain so quickly, not found the right bus without him. We arrived back in Bodhanath with tired feet, but really it didn't take much more time than when we taxied it!

No comments: